Assembly of the Irish Church

At a meeting of the leadership team of the ACP on November 3rd we decided that we would initiate the process of organising an Assembly of the Irish Church.
It will take place at a Dublin venue on May 1st next.
We will welcome the cooperation of other groups, lay or religious, in this project.
If you, as an individual or representing some group, would like to be involved would you please contact us. We aim to meet with interested parties sometime in January to plan the details of the event.
Contact: email:
Mobile: 087 6814699

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  1. I assumed there would be a flood of comment on this. I also expected it to be somewhere on the front of our daily newspapers. But three days in and ….. nothing! Well for what its worth, can I just say ‘brilliant’ and ‘thank you’. Again the ACP is modelling the future. Maybe church officialdom will watch and learn. Hopeful see you on 1st May.

  2. Perhaps you could explain to us – not familiar with a church assembly- what it would entail.
    Having completed a ‘Listening process’ with our diocese (the first time I took part in such an experiment) I have been left feeling utterly frustrated by the process.
    Over nine meetings a lot of people expressed their views on how to make church more relevant and connected to people’s lives. But what happened to all our ideas?
    Well – six months later- we were told that a lot of what we said couldn’t be addressed or discussed in church circles – so there was no point in parishes spending time working on the issues we highlighted as important!
    So that’s how our church responds after listening to people.
    Perhaps that’s why I for one would be slow to spend time again engaging in a church assembly.

  3. Well done. That is brilliant. You will have no trouble getting support from many groups and indivuiduals for this project. Looking forward to seeing you in January for its planning. Keep the Spirit moving!

  4. John,
    We too had a diocesan ‘Listening Process’. I think we need to give these processes a fair wind. At the same time, I agree, we need to acknowledge their unfortunate limitations. The sad fact is that a hierarchy led process cannot sanction the free (blue-sky) thinking that is required, as the hierarchy itself is sanctioned in the area of free thought. The thought police are everywhere. That is why I think this Assembly proposal by the ACP is an important opportunity for the Spirit’s guidance to flow, as together we imagine the shape of the future church. These kinds of fora and discussion groups and simple conversations need to break out everywhere in the church, independent of the structure of fear that seeks to ‘fix the boundary of the march of a church’ to borrow from Parnell. So its not either/or. The deliberations of this proposed Assembly can influence those engaged in the ‘official’ listening processes. I know it can be argued that we can talk but nothing changes, but I am a firm believer that we ourselves, engaging in these illicit conversations, are in ourselves the very change we seek. At the very least it is better than sitting on our hands.

  5. Eddie Finnegan says:

    First, while the ACP may be modelling the future, as MM puts it, I am surprised that this decision was not aired at the AGM a month earlier. It may, of course, have grown from unreported discussions on the fringe of the AGM. It may simply be the brevity of Fr Flannery’s notice (above) of the leadership decision to initiate an Assembly of the Irish Church that has taken our breath away. ‘ACP Leadership’s John XXIII Moment’ may be the headline that Patsy McGarry will ever regret missing out on.
    John, don’t despair that your diocese’s ‘Listening Process’ fell on deaf ears. Just 25 years before the proposed Assembly’s May 1st date, Pobal Dé’s first conference (May 1987) produced a remarkable document: []. It could have been produced last weekend, for all the changes you might have to make! It’s quite up to date.
    I’m sure Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiaich had that statement in his back pocket a few months later when he told his fellow Synoders in Rome that it was time to arouse the sleeping giant of the laity and that ‘feminism can no longer be considered middleclass madness or an American aberration’. A quarter-century later the Irish Pobal Dé can only say, we are where we are, only the deafness is even more deafening. Still, that pobal-dé statement might well serve as a position paper for any Assembly of the Irish Church at any time.
    My only query might be, would the perceived positions and limited representativeness of the ACP as it exists at present be seen as a welcoming or an inhibiting factor in enticing the wider Pobal Dé to assemble and stay assembled ?

  6. It is quesionable that a gathering of those who disagree with the teaching of the Church warrants the title ‘An Assembly of the Irish Church’. Those (many) members of the Church who disagree with you are very unlikely to attend or even acknowledge the event in any way. Are such people not part of the Irish Church? Of course they are. Would it be more accurate to call this a ‘Call to Disobedience’ as the Austrians have been honest enough to do?

  7. Eddie, I am new to the discussion, so apologies for my naiviety and lack of awareness of the steady presence and good work of Pobal Dé over all these years. I took your advice and checked out the Pobal Dé website and the 1987 Conference Document. I read there of a new initiaitve taken at the Pobal Dé meeting in May 2011 to form a new lay ‘Catholic Reform Network’? This sounds exciting and timely. I reiterate what I said above, “These kinds of fora and discussion groups and simple conversations need to break out everywhere in the church”. Lets hope we can all support each other’s efforts and particularly at this time, support the clergy who are finding their radical voice. I feel they need this support as they have so much more to loose than people like me, in speaking out in the these difficult times. Every day seems to bring a new story or report to react to and globally the speed of these developments is catching us all by suprise. As the momentum for reform grows, so too does the need for better networking and communication skills between those concerned. If the good will is there, this is not beyond us.

  8. Spencer, we are on different sides of ongoing discussion, but I share your reservations regarding the title for the event. You will not be suprised that I am not drawn to the title you suggest either. For me it is not a call to disobedience; its a call to think. To think is not to be disloyal – its to be human.

  9. @ MM I assure you that I do think too and have decided, after much thought, to be a Catholic and so accept the Catechism without reservation or complaint.

  10. Mary Burke says:

    Spencer, your view of what it is to be a Catholic needs some further thought. To accept the Catechism without reservation or complaint would not fit the bill. It is a minimalist approach and a failure to use the God-given talents you have been given. Think of the parable of the talents which we shall hear this weekend.
    Church teaching by its very nature changes to keep pace with the lived experience of every succeeding generation of what it is to be a human being now.
    Every articulation of belief is culturally conditioned – even the sacred texts of the Apostles Creed, the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed and the Creed of Saint Athanasius. None of them exhausts the reality of what it is they are attempting in fallible human language to express.
    So you would be serving the Church better if you added your voice and dedicated your energies to ensuring that the formulation of church teaching, while flowing from the formulations of earlier generations also speaks to the women and men of our day.

  11. Spencer, sorry I mistook your stance to be one of unquestioning obedience. Don’t know why I jumped to that conclusion. The Catechism is indeed a fine document. It makes an admirable stab at defining mystery and provides much wisdom for those of us on a spiritual quest. I assume you hold the Canon Law documents in similar esteem. Perhaps there is some riggle room there for debate within the ranks? Your understanding of what makes a person a Catholic is an interesting take, but maybe for me a little one dimensional. I’m a committed and active one myself, 58 years and counting. Is it your understanding that now you are a catholic the thinking bit is out of the way?

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